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Undergraduate International Students

ESL Composition Placement Test – Undergraduates

Incoming international students, including transfer students, are required to demonstrate writing proficiency in academic English. Students who are required to take the ESL Composition Placement Test (those who do not meet specific exemptions) will be contacted at their OSU email address with instructions for taking the online test.


For students admitted for Autumn 2021, the online test for phase 2 will be available from July 7, 2021 to August 10, 2021. University acceptance fees should be paid at least one week before the student will receive an email with instructions for taking the test.

Note: Students who are required to take the test will receive an email at their OSU email address from eslcomptest@osu.edu regarding the information for the ESL Composition Placement Test. If students have questions about accessing the Carmen testing website, please email eslcomptest@osu.edu. (Please DO NOT contact carmen@osu.edu for any ESL Composition Placement Test issues.)


Taking the ESL Composition Placement Test Online

The online ESL Composition Placement Test is administered through ProctorU, a unique service that allows you to complete your exams at any time. You can take an assessment from home, work or anywhere with internet access while utilizing almost any computer with a webcam. During your assessment, you will be connected to a live person who will be there to guide you through the process and assist with any technical issues. Instructions for registering for the ESL Composition Placement test through this service will be emailed to students who are required to take it.

The exam is hosted on the OSU Carmen site (carmen.osu.edu) which requires a secure log-in using your OSU username (lastname.#) and password. You must activate your OSU account before taking the test, and have this login information ready at the time of your test. You will also need a photo ID in English (such as your passport) to take the test.

If you have not set up your OSU lastname.#, visit my.osu.edu to activate this account.

ESL Composition Placement Test – What to expect

The ESL Composition Placement Test assesses familiarity with university-level writing. Many university assignments involve writing for critical reading and require the use of sources. The ESL Composition Placement Test is not a language proficiency test like the TOEFL (although naturally there is a correlation between high language proficiency and ease of reading and writing). The one-hour test will begin with a short text, about one page in length, which you should read carefully. Then, you will have two writing tasks: summarize the text and write a reflection on the text. You will be evaluated on how well you address and develop a topic from an accompanying reading, on how effectively you can communicate what you have to say. Grammatical accuracy, syntactic variety, appropriate use of vocabulary, logical organization, and awareness of academic rules for use of text sources are often implicated in effective communication, so these will also be examined.

Or watch this video on Youku.

After the ESL Composition Placement Test

Your test will be rated by at least two experienced instructors who are specifically trained on the placement test.  The test cannot be retaken; scores are final and placement will not be changed.

Test results will be posted in your Buckeyelink account, generally within one to two weeks.  To view your official results:

  • Go to buckeyelink.osu.edu
  • Click on “Student Center”
  • Click on “Generate Advising Report”
  • Look under “Test Results” for “ESL PLACE”

There are three possible scores, which correspond to placement into the following courses:

  • EDUTL 1901 – Advanced English as a Second Language
  • EDUTL 1902 – Academic Writing in English as a Second Language
  • Qualify (“80 Q”) – No ESL coursework is required, eligible to enroll in English 1110
    • This score shows up as 2000 in Carmen.

Note: If you see a score other than 1901, 1902 or 2000 in Carmen, then your test is still undergoing the rating process. Moreover, the “ESL Test Required” item may still appear on your Student Center To Do List as incomplete after you have taken the test.  As long as you took the test and the result is posted in your Student Center, the item will eventually be automatically removed from your to-do list.

If you are placed in one of the courses, you must complete the ESL requirements within your first academic year. If you are placed in 1901, you will have to successfully complete the course and then take 1902. You cannot take 1901 and 1902 simultaneously. Keep in mind that you have to complete 1901 and/or 1902 before you are eligible to enroll in your first year English course, and some courses require English 1110 as a prerequisite.

You will register for the appropriate class when you attend your orientation or when you meet with your Academic Advisor. Early registration is encouraged as classes fill up quickly. Autumn admitted students who score 1901 can get started early by taking EDUTL 1901 online in the summer.

If you have further questions about courses, please email eslcomptest@osu.edu.


Or watch this video on Youku.


Students who have reported the following English Proficiency scores to Ohio State (obtained within the last two years) are exempt from the ESL Composition Placement Test.  Scores at these levels–which are higher than those required for admission –indicate that a student has already demonstrated sufficient writing proficiency.

  • Those who score on the internet-based (iBT) TOEFL
    • 114 or higher, or
    • 101 or higher and a 28 on the Writing section
  • Those who score on the computer-based TOEFL
    • 280 or higher, or
    • 253 or higher and 5.0 on the TOEFL Essay
  • Those who score on the paper-based TOEFL
    • 650 or higher, or
    • 610 or higher and 5.0 on the Test of Written English
  • Those who score on the IELTS
    • 9.0 or higher (Overall Band Score), or
    • 8.0 or higher (Overall Band Score) and 8.0 Academic Writing module
  • Those who are citizens of the following countries or regions: Australia, Belize, the British Caribbean and British West Indies, Canada (except Quebec), England, Guyana, Ireland, Liberia, New Zealand, Scotland, the United States and Wales.
  • New first term undergraduate freshmen who attended a U.S. high school for two or more years and graduated from that high school, and who have:
    • an ACT English score of 19 or greater, or
    • an SAT Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (EBRW/RWRSN) score of 500 (or an SAT verbal [CRVB] score of 460 or greater if taken prior to 2017), or
    • Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB), or postsecondary credit for English 1110.
  • New undergraduate transfer students who attended a U.S. institution of higher education and are transferring in a course for English 1110 credit (not general English credit).

If you meet one of these exemptions, but receive an email that you should take the ESL Composition Placement Test, please email eslcomptest@osu.edu and include your Full Name, OSU ID #, Name.#, and the exemption you meet.